LIVE: During Senate trial break, Lev Parnas' attorney announces he turned over a tape to Congress that shows Trump angrily ordering the firing of Marie Yovanovitch
House impeachment managers made their final opening arguments for President Donald Trump's removal from office on Friday. Trump was impeached last month for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. On Wednesday, the impeachment managers, who act as prosecutors in Trump's Senate trials, gave a broad overview of the charges against him and the timeline of his alleged misconduct. On Thursday, they turned their focus to his alleged abuse of power. On Friday, they targeted his alleged obstruction of Congress. Scroll down to watch the trial and follow Insider's live coverage. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
This week, the Senate's impeachment trial against President Donald Trump began in earnest with opening arguments from House impeachment managers — who essentially act as prosecutors in the case — as to why the president should be removed from office. Trump was impeached last month for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Both charges relate to his efforts to pressure Ukraine to launch politically motivated investigations against his rivals ahead of the 2020 election while withholding vital military aid and a White House meeting that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky desperately sought. On Wednesday, House Democrats laid out a broad yet detailed overview of the president's scheme to pressure Ukraine into acceding to his personal demands while freezing security assistance and dangling a White House meeting. On Thursday, House prosecutors discussed the constitutional grounds for impeaching Trump, and why his actions rise to the level of impeachable conduct. They then turned their focus to Trump's alleged abuse of power. They drew on testimony from Trump's own officials who said his actions were "wrong," "inappropriate," and "improper." On Friday, House managers shifted their focus to Trump's "unprecedented" obstruction of the impeachment inquiry. The trial resumed around 1 p.m. ET. C-SPAN and TV networks are relying on the Senate's live feed of the trial. C-SPAN is airing the trial at cspan.org. You can watch the trial below:
Scroll down to follow Insider's live coverage of Trump's historic trial:SEE ALSO: 'If the truth doesn't matter, we're lost': On day 2 of opening arguments, House prosecutors hammered Trump for abusing his power and laid the groundwork to remove him from office Attorney representing Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudy Giuliani, turned over a 2018 tape to Congress that shows Trump angrily ordering the firing of Marie Yovanovitch, the US's former ambassador to Ukraine
During a 30-minute break in the Senate proceedings, Joseph Bondy, a lawyer representing Lev Parnas, announced he had turned over a tape from 2018 that shows President Trump angrily ordering the firing of Marie Yovanovitch, then the US's ambassador to Ukraine. Parnas is one of Rudy Giuliani's Ukrainian business associates. He and another Giuliani associate, Igor Fruman, were indicted last year for violating campaign finance law. Parnas has dominated headlines over the past several weeks after turning over a trove of bombshell documents related to Trump's pressure campaign in Ukraine to the House Intelligence Committee. Bondy said Friday that Parnas uncovered the tape after going back through his "cloud." ABC News first reported the tape's existence on Friday morning. "Get rid of her!" a voice that sounded like Trump's said in the recording, according to ABC. "Get her out tomorrow. I don't care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. OK? Do it." Yovanovitch and other career officials testified to Congress that she was ousted because Giuliani saw her as an obstacle in his path as he tried to force Ukraine's government to launch politically motivated investigations to benefit Trump's reelection campaign. He subsequently worked with John Solomon, a controversial columnist for The Hill who's been accused of shoddy reporting, to plant negative and defamatory stories about Yovanovitch that accused her of being anti-Trump. Yovanovitch and other officials have said there's no merit to the stories. House manager Hakeem Jeffries: Trump impeachment process is 'entirely consistent with the Richard Nixon precedent'
House impeachment managers frequently compared and contrasted President Donald Trump and his impeachment inquiry with President Richard Nixon and the Watergate scandal on Friday. New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, one of the seven impeachment managers, told senators that the "sequence of events" in Trump's impeachment "largely track those in the Nixon proceedings." His comments came as Trump and his allies in Congress and the media repeatedly accuse House Democrats of running a "sham" impeachment process, not calling more witnesses, and rushing through the investigation without giving the president a chance to defend himself. (Fact check: Democrats invited Trump's lawyers to participate in the House impeachment hearings, which they declined. As far as witness testimony goes, Trump himself issued a sweeping directive for all executive branch officials and government agencies not to comply with Congress' investigation.) Jeffries said on Friday that the timeline of events in Trump's impeachment inquiry is "entirely consistent with the Richard Nixon precedent." He added that the president "is a suspect, a suspect who may have committed a high crime or misdemeanor. He cannot tell the detectives investigating the possible constitutional crime what they should do in the context of their investigation." House impeachment manager Jerry Nadler: Trump is a 'dictator'
Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, is one of Trump's most outspoken critics. He didn't mince words on Friday when he said Trump is the "first and only president ever to declare himself unaccountable and to ignore subpoenas backed by the Constitution's impeachment power." "If he is not removed from office, if he is permitted to defy the Congress entirely, categorically, to say the subpoenas from Congress in the impeachment inquiry are nonsense, then we will have lost, the House will have lost, the Senate certainly will have lost, all power to hold any president accountable," Nadler said. He added that the president "wants to be all powerful. He does not have to respect the Congress. He does not have to respect the representatives of the people. Only his will goes." "He is a dictator," the New York Democrat said. "This must not stand, and that is why another reason he must be removed from office." House impeachment manager Zoe Lofgren: Nixon was more transparent than Trump
While discussing President Trump's stonewalling of the impeachment inquiry, House manager Zoe Lofgren said former President Richard Nixon was more transparent than Trump. Quoting Nixon's directive to administration officials during the Watergate scandal, Lofgren said, "All members of the White House staff will appear voluntarily when requested by the committee, they will testify under oath, and they will answer fully all proper questions." Lofgren was a lawyer for the House Judiciary Committee during Nixon's impeachment inquiry. She also served during Bill Clinton's impeachment in the 1990s. She compared Nixon's order for administration officials to comply with Congress' investigation during Watergate to Trump's refusal to allow any executive branch officials to testify or provide documents during his impeachment inquiry. Lofgren pointed to an October letter that Trump's lawyers sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after she launched the impeachment inquiry. "In the letter to the speaker of the House, the White House counsel said that President Trump, quote, cannot permit his administration to participate," Lofgren said. "No president has ever used the official power of his office to prevent witnesses from giving testimony to Congress in such a blanket and indiscriminate manner." House prosecutors take aim at Trump's 'comprehensive,' 'categorical,' and 'indiscriminate' obstruction of the impeachment inquiry.
"This was not about specific, narrowly defined security or privacy issues, nor was it based on potential privileges available to the executive branch," House impeachment manager Val Demings said as she referred to the graphic above. "This was a declaration of total defiance of the House's authority to investigate credible allegations of the president's misconduct and a wholesale rejection of Congress' ability to hold the president accountable," she added. Demings continued: "Following President Trump's orders, the Office of the Vice President, the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of State, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Defense all continued to refuse to produce a single document or record in response to 71 specific requests, including five subpoenas." Lead House impeachment manager Adam Schiff: Trump siding with Putin over the US intel community was 'a breathtaking success of Russian intelligence'
Schiff gave an impassioned monologue about President Trump's infamous press conference following a bilateral summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the summer of 2018. During the presser, Trump sided with Russia over the US intelligence community and said he didn't see any reason why Russia would have interfered in the 2016 election. Here's what Schiff said about the episode: "I mean there he, is the president of Russia standing next to the president of the United States and hearing his own Kremlin propaganda talking points coming from the president of the United States. It's the most extraordinary thing. The president of the United States standing next to the president of Russia, our adversary, saying he doesn't believe his own intelligence agencies. He's promoting this kooky crazy server theory cooked up by the Kremlin right next to the guy that cooked it up. It's a breathtaking success of Russian intelligence. I don't know if there's ever been a greater success of Russian intelligence. Whatever profile Russia did of our president, boy did they have it spot on. Flattery and propaganda is all Russia needed. This is the most incredible propaganda coup." House impeachment manager Jason Crow zeroes in on Pentagon official who repeatedly flagged Trump's conduct as being potentially illegal
Rep. Jason Crow of Colorado, another impeachment manager, later detailed how Trump held up Ukraine's aid even as US officials voiced concerns about the legality of his actions. Crow zeroed in on Elaine McCusker, a Pentagon official who repeatedly flagged the Office of Management and Budget's decision to freeze aid, at Trump's direction, as potentially breaking the law. Earlier this month, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office found that the OMB violated the Impoundment Control Act, a law that limits when a president can defer congressionally approved spending, by substituting "his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law." House impeachment manager Hakeem Jeffries: 'What can be more urgent than a sitting president trying to cheat in an American election by soliciting foreign interference?'
Jeffries trained his sights on a period of time from mid-August to early September. On August 12, an anonymous US intelligence official filed a whistleblower complaint against Trump accusing him of soliciting foreign interference in the 2020 election. On August 26, the intelligence community inspector general (ICIG), Michael Atkinson, transmitted the complaint to the acting direct of national intelligence (DNI), Joseph Maguire, and flagged it as "credible" and of "urgent concern." Maguire testified that after receiving the complaint, he notified the White House because of executive privilege considerations. Under federal law, Maguire was "required to share the whistleblower's complaint with Congress, period, full stop," Jeffries said. He added that Trump and White House lawyers adopted a "two-prong cover-up strategy."
Try to convince Trump to lift the hold on Ukraine's military aid before anyone found out. Block Congess and the public from learning about the complaint.
Jeffries accused the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel of working with the White House to determine that Maguire did not have to turn the complaint over to Congress because it was not actually a matter of "urgent concern." The "cover up was in full swing," Jeffries said. "What can be more urgent than a sitting president trying to cheat in an American election by soliciting foreign interference?" he added. "What can be more urgent than that? That's a constitutional crime in progress."
House impeachment manager Hakeem Jeffries: White House officials 'worked overtime' to cover up Trump's Ukraine scheme
Jeffries, a Democrat from New York, outlined how White House officials "worked overtime" to conceal President Trump's scheme "from the American people" despite being aware of his "serious misconduct" in July. "The President tried to cheat. He got caught, and then he worked hard to cover it up," he said. Several witnesses in the impeachment inquiry testified that although they reported concerns to their superiors about a July 25 phone call in which Trump repeatedly pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, no action was taken. The call was the second time national security officials reported Trump's behavior. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, listened in on the call and immediately flagged it to John Eisenberg, the chief lawyer on the NSC. Vindman testified last year that Eisenberg told him not to tell anyone else about his concerns and shifted a full transcript of the call to a top-secret codeword NSC server typically used to house sensitive information pertaining to national security. Tim Morrison, another NSC official who testifed in the impeachment inquiry, told Congress that he reported concerns about the phone call to Eisenberg as well. Vindman and Fiona Hill, the former senior director for Russian and Eurasian affairs at the White House, also testified that they informed Eisenberg of a July 10 meeting during which Gordon Sondland, the US's ambassador to the European Union, asked Ukrainian officials to pursue politically motivated investigations that Trump wanted in exchange for a White House meeting for Zelensky. John Bolton, who was the national security adviser at the time, cut the meeting short and immediately instructed Hill to "tell the lawyers," according to Hill's testimony. Despite multiple reports about Trump's and his deputies' conduct, "the White House attorneys allowed it to continue, unchecked," Jeffries said. The lawyers took "affirmative steps to conceal President Trump's misconduct," he added. What to expect on Saturday
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that President Trump's defense team will begin opening arguments at 10 a.m. ET on Saturday. The arguments are expected to last until roughly 1 p.m. ET. A summary of what happened on day 2 of opening arguments
On the second day of opening arguments, House impeachment managers hammered President Trump for boxing Ukraine into a corner while allegedly abusing his power. They also detailed the constitutional and legal precedent that they said supports Trump's impeachment and removal from office. Impeachment manager Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, opened for the prosecution by detailing what he described as the "ABC's of high crimes and misdemeanors."
"Abuse of power." "Betrayal of nation, particularly through foreign entanglements." "Corruption, particularly corruption of elections."
"The framers believed that any one of these standing alone justified removal from office," Nadler said. Lead House impeachment manager Adam Schiff appeared several times throughout the day to underscore what he said was the illegality of Trump's conduct. "If the truth doesn't matter, we're lost," Schiff said in his closing arguments. A summary of what happened on day 1 of opening arguments
Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, gave a broad overview of the timeline of the president's pressure campaign in Ukraine. It centers around a July 25 phone call Trump had with Zelensky, during which he repeatedly pressed Zelensky to launch investigations targeting former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, over the latter's employment on the board of the Ukrainian natural-gas company Burisma Holdings. Trump also asked Zelensky to look into a discredited conspiracy theory started by Russia suggesting Ukraine interfered in the 2016 US election. But Schiff and the six other impeachment managers detailed that the phone call was just one data point in what turned out to be a months-long effort by Trump and his allies to leverage US foreign policy to bully Ukraine into acceding to the president's personal, political demands.
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The White House is reportedly worried that House Democrats will continue to dig up damaging information on Trump after the impeachment trial
White House officials are concerned that House Democrats will continue investigations into President Donald Trump even...White House officials are concerned that House Democrats will continue investigations into President Donald Trump even after the impeachment trial into Trump concludes, Politico reported on Saturday. Trump is currently facing trial on two articles of impeachment alleging abuse of office and obstructing Congress over a campaign to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate his political rivals. Since Trump was impeached by the House on December 18, a steady stream of new, incriminating information about the Ukraine scandal has continued to come to light. Even though Trump is likely to be acquitted, Republicans expect House Democrats to continue investigating Trump, and they worry it could jeopardize the president's re-election prospects. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. White House officials are concerned that House Democrats will continue investigations into President Donald Trump even after the ongoing impeachment trial into Trump concludes, Politico reported on Saturday. On Saturday, members of Trump's legal team presented opening arguments for his defense in the ongoing Senate impeachment trial after three marathon days of arguments from the House impeachment managers prosecuting the case against Trump. When Democrats took back control of the House in the fall of 2018, the Judiciary, Intelligence, and Oversight Committees immediately opened multiple investigations and oversight probes into Trump's administration than eventually transformed into the House's impeachment inquiry into Trump last fall. Trump is currently facing trial on two articles of impeachment alleging abuse of his office and obstructing Congress. But officials are concerned that even if the Senate acquits Trump, House Democrats won't relent their investigations of his administration and specifically the Ukraine scandal. Trump is accused of abusing his power by dispatching his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and other administration officials to withhold a congressionally appropriated $391 million military aid package from Ukraine for his own personal gain. Based on documents, text message logs, and the sworn testimony of dozens of officials, the impeachment articles charge that Trump and his team leveraged the aid, in addition to the promise of a White House meeting, to pressure Ukraine's president to announce investigations into Trump's political rival Joe Biden and a discredited conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election. For Trump to be removed from office, two-thirds of the US Senate — 67 members — must vote to convict him of the articles of impeachment. Currently, the Senate consists of 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats, and two independents who caucus with Democrats, meaning he is highly unlikely to be removed from office. But even though Trump is likely to be acquitted in the Senate, officials close to the president told Politico they don't expect the flow of new information surrounding the conduct of Trump and allies around the Ukraine issue to end there — and they worry it could jeopardize the president's re-election prospects. "No one in this building believes House Democrats are done with impeachment," one White House official told Politico on condition of anonymity. "I wouldn't be surprised if they launched a dozen more sham investigations between now and Election Day." Since Trump was impeached by the House on December 18, a steady stream of new, incriminating information about the Ukraine scandal has continued to come to light. On December 31, the national security publication Just Security got ahold of a trove of previously redacted emailed showing that officials at the Office of Management and Budget repeatedly ignored warnings from the Department of Defense that placing a hold on the military-aid package to Ukraine violated the law. Next, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office published a report January 16 finding that the Ukraine aid freeze did, in fact, break federal law by violating the Impoundment Control Act, which stipulates that congressionally appropriated funds must be spent within a given window. And more recently, the Giuliani associate Lev Parnas, who played a role in the Ukraine scandal himself, has continued to make a series of explosive claims, some backed up with photographic, video, and audio evidence. On Saturday, Parnas' attorney released audio and video of Trump ordering aides to "get rid" of former US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was suddenly recalled from her post in the spring of 2019 for standing in the way of Giuliani and One Republican Senate aide told Politico they believed "Democrats are going to keep releasing to their media friends supposedly 'new' info to demand more investigation and witnesses anytime the trial is nearly over." Read more: Day 1 of the Trump defense team's opening arguments in his impeachment trial was a masterclass in disinformation 'Take her out': New recording appears to feature an angry Trump telling associates to 'get rid of' the US's ambassador to Ukraine after he was told she bad-mouthed him A new collection of personal photos show Giuliani's 'fixer' Lev Parnas with Trump's inner circle, despite claims they don't know each otherSEE ALSO: 64 photos show the key moments of Trump's impeachment so far Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: A law professor weighs in on how Trump could beat impeachment
On Thursday, the Senate launched the second day of opening arguments in President Donald Trump's historic...On Thursday, the Senate launched the second day of opening arguments in President Donald Trump's historic impeachment trial. House impeachment managers — lawmakers who act as prosecutors in the trial — laid out the constitutional groundwork for impeachment. Among other things, they discussed legal precedent supporting Trump's removal from office, what constitutes abuse of power, and why the president's conduct rises to the level of an impeachable offense. Scroll down to watch the hearing and follow Insider's live coverage of the trial. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. On Thursday, the Senate began the second day of opening arguments in President Donald Trump's historic impeachment trial. Trump is the third US president to be impeached. The House of Representatives charged him last month with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress related to his efforts to force Ukraine to pursue politically motivated investigations against his rivals while withholding vital security assistance and a White House meeting that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky desperately sought. Trump's trial officially began last week, and House impeachment managers — lawmakers who act as prosecutors against the president — began presenting their opening arguments on Wednesday. Read Insider's coverage of day one of opening arguments here. On Thursday, House prosecutors laid out the constitutional groundwork for impeachment. Among other things, they discussed legal precedent supporting Trump's removal from office, what constitutes abuse of power, and why the president's conduct rises to the level of an impeachable offense. The proceedings began at 1 p.m. ET. C-SPAN and TV networks are relying on the Senate's live feed of the trial. C-SPAN is airing the trial at cspan.org. Watch day 2 of opening arguments below: Scroll down to follow Insider's live coverageSEE ALSO: House prosecutors wrap day one of opening arguments in Trump's impeachment trial by imploring the Senate to choose country over party Republican senator accuses impeachment witness Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, an immigrant and war veteran, of dual loyalty As House impeachment manager Adam Schiff highlighted testimony from witnesses who said President Trump's conduct crossed the line, Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee singled out Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council. After Schiff praised the patriotism of the impeachment witnesses, Blackburn tweeted, "Adam Schiff is hailing Alexander Vindman as an American patriot. How patriotic is it to badmouth and ridicule our great nation in front of Russia, America's greatest enemy?" It's unclear what Blackburn was referring to. Vindman never "badmouthed" the US to any Russian officials. And during his impeachment testimony, Vindman emphasized his background, military service, and loyalty to the US. Blackburn isn't the first Republican to accuse Vindman of dual loyalty throughout the impeachment proceedings. When Vindman, an immigrant whose family fled the former Soviet Union and arrived in the US as refugees 40 years ago, first testified against the president, several Trump allies in Congress and the media suggested Vindman was secretly loyal to Ukraine. There is no merit to any of those claims, and they drew swift backlash and allegations of racism. House prosecutors show graphic illustrating how impeachment witnesses agreed Trump's scheme was 'inappropriate' and 'wrong' House impeachment managers' prosecution strategy became clearer as the second day of opening arguments wore on. On Wednesday — day one of prosecutors' opening arguments — House Democrats laid out a broad yet detailed overview of the president's scheme to pressure Ukraine into acceding to his personal demands while withholding military aid and a White House meeting for Ukraine's president. Impeachment managers gave the Senate, and the public, an intricate timeline of how Trump's efforts played out, and the lengths he went to conceal them until they were publicly revealed. They also broadly outlined the two charges against him, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, and specific conduct they said supported the charges. On Thursday — day two of opening arguments – House prosecutors began by discussing the constitutional grounds for impeaching Trump, and why his actions rise to the level of impeachable conduct. During the second half of the day, they turned their focus to Trump's alleged abuse of power and all the ways his conduct went astray of official US policy. They drew on testimony from Trump's own officials who said his actions were "wrong," "inappropriate," and "improper." House managers have one more day to make their opening arguments before Trump's defense team gets a chance to present a rebuttal. It's likely Democrats will use their last day to focus on Trump's alleged obstruction of Congress, and to make a final case to call more witnesses. House impeachment manager Adam Schiff: Trump 'is a president who truly feels that he can do whatever he wants' While laying out the evidence against the president, Schiff said Trump "is a president who truly feels that he can do whatever he wants." "That includes coercing an ally to help him cheat in an election," Schiff said, referring to Trump's demands that Ukraine launch politically motivated investigations against his rival ahead of the 2020 election. "And if he's successful, the election is not a remedy for that," Schiff added. "A remedy in which the President could cheat is no remedy at all, which is why we are here." Lead House impeachment manager Adam Schiff drills down on how Trump boxed Ukraine into a corner by abusing his power After the break, Schiff turned his focus, specifically, to Ukraine's alarm at being perceived as a pawn in US domestic politics. The California Democrat drew on testimony from Trump administration officials and career foreign service officers, who discussed at length the precarious position Ukraine was in during Trump's pressure campaign. The military aid and White House meeting that Trump dangled were not only crucial in assisting Ukraine as it fought a hot war with Russia. They would also go a long way in sending the message that the US was fully supportive of Ukraine as it fought off Russian aggression. "The bottom line is this: what was in the best interest of our country was to help Ukraine," Schiff said. "To give them the military aid to fight one of our greatest adversaries and help promote the rule of law." He continued: "And what was in President Trump's personal interest was the opposite: to pressure Ukraine to conduct investigations into his 2020 rival to help ensure his re-election. And when what is best for the country and what was best for Donald Trump diverged, President Trump put himself above the best interest of our country." House prosecutors played audio from 1999 in which Sen. Lindsey Graham, a staunch Trump ally, argued the exact opposite of what he claims today Earlier Thursday, House impeachment manager Jerry Nadler played a clip of Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina during Bill Clinton's impeachment in 1999. In the clip, Graham, who was a House impeachment manager during Clinton's Senate trial, elaborated on what he believed the framers meant by "high crimes." "I think that's what they meant by high crimes, doesn't even have to be a crime," Graham said. "It's just when you start using your office and you're acting in a way that hurts people." Graham had left the Senate hearing room shortly before Nadler played the clip. But according to media reports from journalists in the gallery, Graham returned shortly after, at which point Nevada Sen. Ben Sasse whispered something in his ear, prompting Graham to smile. Of course, the South Carolina firebrand has taken a vastly different position on Trump's impeachment, claiming there is no evidence of criminal conduct and that Trump did nothing wrong. He has also indicated that he does not intend to act as an impartial juror in the president's Senate trial. CNN reported that Nadler played the 1999 clip of Graham to "make the point to rebut" Trump's legal team's argument "that because a crime was not committed, he cannot be impeached." After the break, lead House impeachment manager Adam Schiff lists 10 reasons to show how Trump sought to extort Ukraine for personal gain Schiff, a Democrat from California who was a prosecutor before being elected to Congress, took to the podium to highlight the reasons that he said prove President Trump's demands that Ukraine launch investigations against his political rivals stemmed from personal interest and not the US's national interest: Trump only cared about a public announcement of the investigations, rather than the investigations themselves. He cared only about the "big stuff" as it related to Ukraine. David Holmes, a State Department official who discussed Trump's beliefs with Gordon Sondland, the US's ambassador to the European Union, testified that by "big stuff," Trump meant the Bidens. The president used his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, to carry out the Ukraine pressure campaign, instead of official US foreign policy channels. The investigations were not part of official US policy, according to State Department official George Kent and several other witnesses. The investigations were requested outside official channels. Multiple officials within the administration reported their concerns about Trump's requests, including Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, who listened in on the July 25 phone call when Trump discussed the investigations with Ukraine's president. Ukrainian officials expressed concerns about the investigations being politically motivated and that pursuing them would drag Ukraine into domestic US politics. The White House tried to bury records of the July 25 phone call. Vindman testified that John Eisenberg, the NSC's chief lawyer, instructed him not to tell anyone about the call, and that a transcript of it was placed on a top-secret, codeword server typically used to house sensitive information pertaining to US national security. Trump publicly acknowledged that the investigations he wanted could damage Biden's candidacy. The president showed no other inclination to combat corruption in Ukraine. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer calls out the discrepancy in Republican claims during Trump's impeachment trial Several Republican senators have repeatedly said that they've heard nothing new in President Trump's impeachment trial so far. But Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters that Republicans were "the very ones who voted against new documents, new witnesses, new facts. Can't have it both ways." GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik slams Democrats for relying on constitutional law professors to answer questions about constitutional law "The fact that they chose professors to speak to millions of Americans, they are not in touch with the viewpoints of millions of Americans," Stefanik, one of eight House GOP lawmakers who are the public face of President Trump's defense, told reporters during a 15-minute break in the trial. "So I think it helps the president's case that the Democrats continue to put up anti-Trump professors as their key witnesses," Stefanik added. Stefanik did not elaborate on who — other than professors of constitutional law — she believes would be better equipped to address issues of constitutional law. Trump defense attorney Jay Sekulow: Trump's actions are not impeachable 'no matter what school of thought you're on' Sekulow is one of several attorneys on Trump's defense team. They have consistently argued that the president's actions are not impeachable, that he did nothing wrong, and that his impeachment is "constitutionally invalid." They will begin their opening arguments on Saturday. During break in trial, Republican senators show no signs of budging despite overwhelming evidence against Trump During a 15-minute break after the first portion of Thursday's opening arguments, several Republican senators talked to reporters about their take on the trial so far. Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, an ardent supporter of President Trump, said he'd seen no evidence to change his position. He also suggested that former Vice President Joe Biden, not Trump, had engaged in wrongdoing, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri struck a similar tone and focused on the Bidens instead of Trump, accusing them of corruption. "The House managers have worked themselves into the awkward position of trying to have it both ways," Hawley said. House impeachment manager Sylvia Garcia blows up Trump's defense of his requests for investigations targeting his rivals House impeachment manager Sylvia Garcia took center stage after Jerry Nadler, another impeachment manager, Jerry Nadler, laid out the constitutional groundwork for President Trump's impeachment. While Nadler's presentation focused on legal and constitutional precedent that supports Trump's removal from office, Garcia zeroed in on the conduct at the center of Trump's impeachment. Specifically, he pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch two investigations: The first would investigated Burisma Holdings, the Ukrainian natural-gas company whose board employed former Vice President Joe Biden's son, Hunter, until last year. Trump has accused the elder Biden of engineering the ouster of Viktor Shokin, the Ukrainian prosecutor general who previously investigated Burisma, to protect his son. Trump's second request was for an investigation into a discredited conspiracy theory suggesting Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 US election to help Democrats and Hillary Clinton's campaign. The president has claimed that he only requested those investigations to target purported corruption in Ukraine. But Garcia highlighted several holes in that defense: Trump's claim that Biden was acting with corrupt motives holds no merit. He was promoting the US's official position when he called for Shokin's ouster, as well as that of the entire western world, including the International Monetary Fund. Moreover, Shokin's investigation was dormant at the time that Biden demanded his removal. There is no evidence supporting the theory that Ukraine intervened in the 2016 election. The US intelligence community determined with high confidence in 2017 that the Russian government was responsible for meddling in the election. Witnesses and experts have also testified that the conspiracy theory about Ukrainian election interference can be traced back to Russian President Vladimir Putin himself. That said, Garcia noted that Trump's words had the desired effect for Putin. She pointed to a statement from Putin on November 20, in which he said, "Thank God nobody is accusing us anymore of interfering in US elections. Now they're accusing Ukraine." House impeachment manager: Trump abused his power 'to kneecap political opponents and spread Russian conspiracy theories' House impeachment manager Jerry Nadler struck an impassioned tone as he described how President Trump abused his power "in order to kneecap political opponents and spread Russian conspiracy theories." Trump used his office to "compel" foreign nations to "meddle in our elections," Nadler said. "This attacks the very foundation of our liberty," is "a grave abuse of power," and an "unprecedented betrayal of our national interest." It is a "shocking corruption of the election process," and a "crime against the Constitution warranting — demanding — removal from office," Nadler said. Republican senators play with fidget spinners while House managers make the case for Trump's removal CNN reported that within the first 20 minutes of House impeachment manager Jerry Nadler's opening arguments, Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina moved his papers to the side and started toying with a blue fidget spinner. According to CNN, Sens. Tom Cotton and Pat Toomey also had fidget spinners on their desks; Cotton's was purple and Toomey's was white. House impeachment manager Jerry Nadler: Trump's position is 'nothing but self-serving constitutional nonsense' "Everyone except President Trump and his lawyers agree that presidents can be impeached for abuse of power," Nadler said. "The president's position amounts to nothing but self-serving constitutional nonsense, and it is dangerous nonsense at that." "The President's conduct is wrong. It is illegal. It is dangerous. And it captures the worst fears of our founders and the framers of the Constitution," he added. House impeachment manager Jerry Nadler takes aim at Trump's current defenders who contradicted themselves While making the case that abuse of power is an impeachable offense, House impeachment manager Jerry Nadler pointed to statements made by President Trump's staunchest allies — some of whom are on his defense team in the impeachment trial. For instance, Nadler pointed to Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, who will argue against impeaching and removing the president later this week. In 1998, during President Bill Clinton's impeachment, Dershowitz said of abuse of power, "It certainly doesn't have to be a crime. if you have somebody who completely corrupts the office of the president and who abuses trust and who poses great danger to our liberty, you don't need a technical crime." Dershowitz now believes abuse of power is not an impeachable offense. He addressed the discrepancy in his views earlier this week, tweeting that he had evaluated his 1998 statements and come to his own conclusion that his more recent opinion is correct. Tweet Embed: //twitter.com/mims/statuses/1219727265245753344?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw (1 of 3)To the extent there are inconsistencies between my current position and what I said 22 years ago, I am correct today. During the Clinton impeachment, the issue was not whether a technical crime was required, because he was charged with perjury. Nadler also highlighted a June 2018 memo that Attorney General William Barr wrote before he was nominated to lead the Justice Department under Trump. "Presidents cannot be indicted or criminally investigated," Barr's memo said. "But that's okay, because they can be impeached. That's the safeguard." Barr added: "The fact that President is answerable for any abuses of discretion and is ultimately subject to the judgment of Congress through the impeachment process means that the President is not the judge in his own cause." Nadler then cited the court case Nixon v. Harlow, which found that "the remedy of impeachment demonstrates that the president remains accountable under law for his misdeeds in office." House impeachment manager Jerry Nadler: 'I find it amazing' that Trump thinks abuse of power is not an impeachable offense House impeachment manager Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said the framers believed there were two ways in which a president could abuse his power: Forbidden acts: Use of official power grossly exceeds constitutional or legal authority. Corrupt motives: Use of official power for improper personal benefit, while ignoring or injuring the national interest. Nadler went on to detail how two previous presidents, Andrew Johnson and Richard Nixon, were accused of abusing their power in one or both of these ways. Based on that precedent, Nadler said, "abuse of power is clearly an impeachable offense under the Constitution. To be honest, this should not be a controversial statement. I find it amazing that the president rejects it. Yet he does." "He insists that there is no such thing as impeachable abuse of power," Nadler added. "His position is dead wrong. All prior impeachments of high office have always included abuse of power." Fact check: Abuse of power was one of the charges in draft articles of impeachment against Presidents Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon. But it did not make it into the final charges against Clinton because it wasn't approved by the full House. Nixon, meanwhile, resigned before he was formally impeached. And abuse of power was also not one of the 11 articles of impeachment against Andrew Johnson. House impeachment manager Jerry Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, details the 'ABCs of high crimes and misdemeanors' Nadler's committee is in charge of the impeachment process in the House of Representatives and held a hearing last year on the constitutional grounds for a president's impeachment and removal. On Thursday, he opened for the prosecution by detailing what he described as the "ABC's of high crimes and misdemeanors." "Abuse of power." "Betrayal of nation, particularly through foreign entanglements." "Corruption, particularly corruption of elections." "The framers believed that any one of these standing alone justified removal from office," Nadler said. Reminder: Trump was impeached for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Both articles of impeachment relate to the president's efforts to strong-arm Ukraine into launching politically motivated investigations targeting his rival ahead of the 2020 election. Testimony from over a dozen witnesses, as well as Trump's own statements, confirmed that the president and his allies carried out their pressure campaign in Ukraine while withholding nearly $400 million in military aid and a White House meeting that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky desperately sought. Senate Majority Leader lays out the schedule for the day McConnell said shortly after the session began that the chamber will take short breaks every two to three hours and, later in the day, break for 30 minutes for dinner. House Republicans defend Trump to reporters before opening arguments resume Before the Senate opened its session at 1 p.m. ET, several Republican lawmakers allied with President Trump defended him to reporters in the Senate basement. "We're just making sure that we are paying close attention to the testimony," Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, one of eight House Republicans whom the White House has tapped as being the public face of Trump's defense, told reporters. These lawmakers will not speak during his Senate trial since they aren't part of Trump's official defense team. But Stefanik said she and the seven other House GOP lawmakers were "making sure that our points are getting out there to the American people." Stefanik also said the group is working closely with the White House throughout the trial. A summary of what happened on day 1 of opening arguments Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and the lead impeachment manager, gave a broad overview of the timeline of the president's pressure campaign in Ukraine. It centers around a July 25 phone call Trump had with Zelensky, during which he repeatedly pressed Zelensky to launch investigations targeting former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, over the latter's employment on the board of the Ukrainian natural-gas company Burisma Holdings. Trump also asked Zelensky to look into a discredited conspiracy theory started by Russia suggesting Ukraine interfered in the 2016 US election. But as Schiff and the six other impeachment managers detailed, the phone call was just one data point in what turned out to be a months-long effort by Trump and his allies to leverage US foreign policy to bully Ukraine into acceding to the president's personal, political demands.
Gordon Sondland told Congress that Trump's Ukraine efforts amounted to a quid pro quo, his lawyer says
The US ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, told Congress that President Donald Trump's Ukraine...The US ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, told Congress that President Donald Trump's Ukraine efforts were a quid pro quo, Sondland's lawyer told The Wall Street Journal. Sondland testified that he believed the Trump administration swapped a White House meeting for a promise to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, his son, and 2016 election interference. Sondland also told lawmakers that he believed Trump's decision to withhold $400 million in aid to Ukraine in exchange for the investigations was a quid pro quo arrangement, though he added that he was not a lawyer. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. The US ambassador to the European Union told House impeachment investigators that President Donald Trump's efforts to have Ukraine investigate the Bidens were a quid pro quo, the ambassador's lawyer told The Wall Street Journal. Gordon Sondland testified last week that he believed the Trump administration had exchanged a White House meeting with Ukraine's president for investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden's son and 2016 election interference, Sondland's lawyer, Robert Luskin, told The Journal. Lawmakers also asked Sondland whether Trump's decision to withhold $400 million in aid was part of a quid pro quo arrangement for Ukrainian officials to investigate Biden, Sondland responded that he wasn't a lawyer but believed it was a quid pro quo, Luskin said. Sondland testified as part of a House impeachment inquiry, which has been investigating whether Trump used the office of the president for his own personal gain. A major facet of the investigation is Trump's withholding of the military aid package Congress had allocated for Ukraine, and whether Trump sought to exchange it for the investigation into Biden. Trump and his personal attorney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, had been pressuring Ukraine to investigate corruption allegations against the Bidens, as well as the US intelligence community's assessment that Russia meddled in the 2016 election. Sondland, along with several other diplomats, were called to testify over their now-infamous text conversations regarding the White House's efforts to mount pressure on Ukraine. One September 9 text exchange in particular — between Sondland and the acting ambassador to Ukraine, William Taylor — has become a key focus of the House impeachment inquiry. "I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign," Taylor texted Sondland. Roughly five hours later, after reportedly phoning Trump, Sondland responded to Taylor. "The President has been crystal clear: no quid pro quo's of any kind," Sondland wrote. "The President is trying to evaluate whether Ukraine is truly going to adopt the transparency and reforms that President Zelenskiy promised during his campaign." Trump himself has denied a quid pro quo arrangement. Sondland's lawyer told The Journal that Sondland testified that he wasn't involved in Trump's decision to withhold the Ukraine aid, and could not prove that the decision wasn't related to the demand for investigations. Read more: 8 Trump officials made stunning revelations about how the president and Giuliani weaponized the State Department The diplomat at the center of the Trump-Ukraine scandal is spending $1 million of taxpayer money on home renovations — including $95,000 for an outdoor 'living pod' Gordon Sondland, a central figure in the Ukraine scandal, threw Trump and Giuliani under the bus in his opening statement to Congress Gordon Sondland is reportedly planning to tell Congress that his 'no quid pro quo' denial on Ukraine came directly from Trump Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Here's a full reading of the phone call memo between Trump and Ukraine